08 November 2006

I voted

And you know the very best thing about it? When I got there the line was short. I had to wait about three minutes to get my Democracy Debit Card and go to a machine. But by the time I left, the line was out the door. Possibly a 30-minute wait time, possibly more.

You're probably thinking that I'm just bragging about having good line karma, but that's not it. I'm delighted that this many people turned out to vote on a rainy night in safely blue state.

My Mom and I used to go vote together. We'd walk over to the YMCA and wait in line and participate in representative government and then walk home. And we liked it when the lines were long.

Before I was old enough to vote, Mom's polling place was my elementary school (now county offices and a rec center) and I remember the voting machines - the kind with the curtain and the levers. One big lever closed the curtain and sort of unlocked the machine. Then one would flip the little lever next to the name of the candidates one wished to support. Pulling the big lever again finalized the ballot and opened the curtain. It was pretty neat and felt very important.

By the time I was voting, we were using punch ballots. Easier to use, no need for the big curtains, and they were set up at little plastic hutches which wobbled a bit every time the punch was used. No romance whatsoever.

Now in Maryland we use touchscreen balloting. Simple. Easy. Controversial. Also completely unromantic. If the punch ballot felt like I was using office supplies to vote, the touchscreen is like getting my government from an ATM.

So now the romance has to come from what should be important anyway - that we are participating in our own governance. I go out and vote every time, no matter how unimpressive the candidates are, because I have never taken my right to vote for granted. If one looks at the history of the world, the number of people who get to chose their "leaders" is still a tiny, tiny minority. In Colonial Virginia, for instance, in order to vote one had to have 5 qualifications: one had to be a white, male, Protestant, landholder, who was over the age of 21. Today only one of those still applies. (I believe it is the age restriction, but I could be wrong. Virginia can be a pretty weird place. Not to mention a commonwealth instead of a state.)

Look at how many of the amendments to our Constitution deal specifically with enfranchisement. Clearly, this is something we take seriously around here.

So I vote. And I glad that I do. And I glad that I wrote in Louis Goldstein for Comptroller, even if he didn't get as many votes as the (also dead) lady in South Dakota.


David Gorsline said...

The 26th Amendment enfranchised 18-year-olds everywhere, including the Commonwealth.

Maureen said...

I voted too! And after being someplace where people literally risked their lives to vote, I tend to take this privilege seriously. Yeah, "getting my government from an ATM" feels weird, not as "official", somehow, as with the old, curtained machines, but the end result is the same.